CYGNETS

We watched a swans nest for a number of weeks in the hope that we would see some cygnets, young swans, fledge the nest. One day the swans were there, the next they were gone - had the eggs hatched, or had they been raided? A trawl of the nearby Beck reviewed nothing, so we expected the worst. Two weeks later, look what appeared, two very proud swans with four cygnets! The cygnets will be withe the parents for the next six months and I am sure we will see more of them.

Read More

ROBBED EGG

I have not witnessed this sight before, a robbed egg being stashed by a carrion crow, but that is exactly what happened, hiding an concealing a egg in our garden lawn!

Read More

HOUSE MARTINS

House Martins arrive here in April and start building their nests in May. Both the male and female are involved in house building and they gather up beak fulls of mud, which  is mixed with plant material and use to build their nests.  Traditionally house martins would build their nests on cliffs, but have adapted themselves to building on convenient sites offered by man. Most noticeably over our back door!

Read More

BUMBLE BEE

Warm weather always brings the pollinators out and this bumble bee is no exception feeding on white campion in one of our pollen and nectar mixes. At this stage of the year she will be storing up large quantities of pollen before she starts producing her first brood.

Read More

COCK PHEASANT

This chap also joins the bull feeding time every morning! His wives were about every morning too, but I suspect they are sitting on nests and therefor not currently putting in an appearance.

Read More

FRENCH PARTRIDGE

This is a very hansom cock french partridge, who has taken to appearing every morning when I am feeding some of our young bulls. His wife is never far behind and they tuck into some of the beef nuts dropped by the bulls. This behavior is quite extra ordinary as they are totally wild birds, but clearly enjoy the company!  Will they be brave enough to feed from my hand? The cock ( male ), is larger than the hen ( female ), but they have the same markings.

Read More

DUSKY CRANE'S BILL

We always look out for this flower from May to June as it grows in one or two places on the farm. It is classified as a two star flower, meaning that it is scarce, local and seldom common. This one is growing on a bank side.

Read More

ROE DEER TWINS

May is when we would expect to get our first sighting of roe deer fawns, often it is when they have been left alone in a field by the mother during the day. The mother only returns to them in the early evening / night, so as not to draw attention to them - you never know what predator might be watching. For what ever reason, this mother was not concerned about moving her twins across an open pea field in the middle of the day.  It was a very hot day and it is possible she was trying to get them to water. As the pictures show, she was quite nervous and then suddenly a buck joins them. No way of telling if the buck was the father.

Read More

GERANIUM

It is always exciting to find a plant where you least expect it and no less than this white flowered geranium found in the middle of one of our field grass margins. I am not sure if it could be a member of the crane's bill family - more investigation needed!

Read More

EMERGING EARS

On our earlier wheat crops the ears are just beginning to appear and become visible. We refer to this as the booting stage in the crop.

Read More

RED CAMPION

A perennial plant found in grassy areas, roadsides and hedgerows.  Flowering from April to October. Sometimes it will hybridise with white campion, producing pink flowers. A very common plant.

Read More

WETLAND AREA

This is a wetland area we have on the lower reaches of the beck. Last year it was grazed out by some of our Highland cattle for the first time, possibly the first time it has ever been grazed out by cattle. The area was heavily overgrown, mostly with reeds, which was restricting the amount of light able to reach soil level. We are hoping that by exposing the previously covered soil we will encourage wildflowers to return to the area.  Where we have done this on other stretches of the river it has been very successful, with recognised flower species going from 17 to 67 in five years. Some years ago we also removed a large number of very mature poplar trees from the area - part of a 5 000 tonne removal. The tree removal has had a huge impact on the length of time these areas are wet for, beneficial to water levels and the associated wildlife. 

Read More

HONEYSUCKLE

Honeysuckle is a woody climber that twines clockwise around other trees and shrubs, flowering between June and August. Later it produces red berries in clusters.

Read More

YELLOW IRIS

The Yellow iris is a robust perennial that grows in pond margins and marshes and on river banks.  It flowers between May and August.

Read More

FORGET ME NOT

Forget me not's are a common flower of which there are a number of species, Field, Changing, Water, Creeping, Tufted and Woodland to name a few. The rarest is the Woodland forget me not, found in damp shady areas - as this picture shows.

Read More

MINK TRAP

Mink are not a native species. They were introduced to the UK where they were farmed for their pelts - skins, which were used to make fur coats. Something that would never happen today.  Unfortunately some of the mink escaped from farms, where they were kept in captivity, and can now be found on rivers and streams across the UK. They are a semi aquatic carnivorous mammal and are very damaging to British wildlife and can empty a river of fish in no time at all. To control their numbers mink traps are used and the standard tool is a Mink raft as shown here.

Read More

WEIR

We may have had one of the wetest May's on record, but it has done nothing to our river levels!  Our water table continues to fall, this last month by 0.6 metres, and we have yet to reach the height of the summer abstraction levels - doesn't bode well for river flows later in the summer. This weir is used by the Environment agency to monitor water levels in the area and the information is use to determine if water restrictions are required. Low water flows are not good for chalk streams and sadly in other parts of the country they have disappeared altogether.

Read More

DRYAD’S SADDLE

Dryad’s mushroom is one of several bracket mushrooms found in England and can be found growing on fallen logs and tree stumps. It can also be found growing parasitically on hardwood trees such as maple, elm and other deciduous trees. It is a white rot fungus that causes decay of the heartwood of the tree. They can usually be seen between April and May, but sometime later in the year.

Read More